American Idol recap: On Wednesday night, the final nine contestants performed with the band. Caleb Johnson's strong performance of a Led Zeppelin song prompted Jennifer Lopez to call him 'sexy.' Was it really that good?
On Wednesday, American Idol announced that the theme of this week's performances would be "with the band," something judges suspected would help to make the performers more comfortable on stage so it's kind of a shame that MK Noblette missed this opportunity.
When asked by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest about MK's elimination, judge Jennifer Lopez hinted that had it been up to her she would have used the save, leading us to believe that Harry Connick Jr. was the one who could not be persuaded. But how many weeks in a row is JLo going to try and play good judge, bad judge? It seems that she's ready to save every contestant who winds up in the bottom. A wise person once said, "A friend to everyone is a friend to no one."
"Fall Out Boy" band members, Patrick Stump and Peter Wentz, then stopped by for a Q and A session with the American Idol contestants. It was during this session that the injustice of not being able to vote people off the show began to trouble me again. It's unfair that viewers be antagonized by some of the more obnoxious contestants but have no form of recourse. We should have been able to immediately vote off Caleb Johnson after he asked Peter and Patrick if they had any trouble hitting their high notes in concert, after which he felt the need to draw more attention to himself by singing the note. Really, Caleb? The spotlight is on you once a week for millions of people to see, is that not enough? Now you need to hijack conversations so you can get the attention you need to belt out another note? Ugh . . .
But perhaps it is for the best that we can't immediately vote off contestants when they annoy us because after the group performances Wednesday night, there would be no one left and Ryan Seacrest would be our next American Idol by default since he would have been the only one left on stage.
Alex Preston: Alex chose to perform "Don't Speak," by No Doubt and as is typical of Alex, he was brilliant. Aside from a small hiccup early on in the lyrics, his artistry and crystal clear tone was near perfect. The judges didn't agree completely; Keith Urban was left wanting some more edge from Alex and JLo agreed and felt as though the energy was sucked out of the song. Harry wished that Alex would move around the stage more. A-
Majesty Rose: Hoping she could perform the song just as she imagined it her mind, Majesty sang "Shake it Out," by Florence and the Machine with more bravery than she did last week. Despite the renewed confidence, Majesty struggled staying in tune, especially when she got to the chorus. Jennifer lauded her performance and didn't care that Majesty struggled vocally. Harry was proud of her performance and Keith thought it was a great song choice but he suggested that Majesty work on centering herself. B-
Dexter Roberts: Dexter selected "Boondocks," by Little Big Town. It's interesting how contestants from the South are so often defined by where they come from, whereas those from other areas of the country don't seem to have that same connection or influence. Dexter's performance was consistently predictable and Harry complained that Dexter once again chose an anthem song and did nothing to inject his own style into it. The judges were then distracted by a giant gummy bear, which doesn't say much for Dexter's performance. B-
Malaya Watson: Malaya opted for a more subdued performance, which is usually a good thing since it tends to temper her natural exuberance. Her performance of "The Long and Winding Road," by The Beatles started off a bit shaky but found it's groove pretty quickly and it was a relaxing and mellow performance that suited her vocals very well, especially the power notes at the end. Keith stole JLo's word and called it "beautiful." JLo and Harry agreed but Harry warned Malaya not to focus on the stardom that she referenced in her video package, but to focus on her craft first. Harry is the only person who can go from viciously attacking a gummy bear to giving profound advice without missing a beat. B+
Sam Woolf: Sam looked great when he came on stage to perform, "Hey There Delilah," by The Plain White Tees. He also sounded great with that voice that reminds me of browned butter, but the judges felt that Sam could have connected more to the lyrics and Keith suggested that Sam become a little looser and glide more around the words rather than being so staccato. And just when the judges thought they were done with their gummy bear induced sugar rush, Ryan asked Sam to tell the audience who his Delilah was and Sam responded that it was his grandma. Sugar coma ensues. A-
Jessica Meuse: Jessica opted to sing, "Rhiannon," by Fleetwood Mac and it suited her voice perfectly. If she hadn't struggled with the lower notes and the timing of the song, Jessica could have had the moment she so desperately needs. Harry felt that Jessica connected to the lyrics better than she ever has before. Keith noted how great Jessica looked (very true) before telling her she needed to pull the audience in more and Jennifer agreed. B-
C.J. Harris: C.J. was hoping to redeem himself after his treacherous performance last week and selected, "If It Hadn't Been for Love," by the SteelDrivers. Overall it was a stronger performance by C.J. though, in the middle of the song, his tendency to go sharp returned. Keith advised him not to confuse the sound of expressing something with the feeling of expressing something and C.J. tried to pretend he knew what Keith was saying. Jennifer agreed that C.J. botched the middle of the song and Harry reiterated that he NEEDS to work on the pitch. C
Caleb Johnson: Caleb was so excited to be back in the limelight again (it had been a whole five seconds since someone paid attention to him) and he chose, "Dazed and Confused," by Led Zeppelin. Yes, once again Caleb's voice did not disappoint. The judges were delighted. The crowd was cheering. (I was grimacing.) The judges heaped Caleb with love and adoration and then Jennifer Lopez did the unthinkable, she threw out the "sexy" word. This is seriously the last thing Caleb ever needed to hear and even though she qualified it by emphasizing that the performance was sexy, the horse was already out of the gate. The enthusiastic judges are seemingly unaware that they are only encouraging an already burgeoning monster of exhibitionism. A
Jena Irene: It was a brilliant decision for Jena to choose Evanescence's, "Bring me to Life," since there is a haunting quality about that song that suits her style. She did a good job but there's something about her enunciation that makes it seem like she's choking on her tongue. The judges all loved her but Jennifer wanted her to be a little more messy. A-
No one was horrible Wednesday night, something that makes calling the bottom three a bit trickier. But here goes:
Check back Friday to see which Idol Jennifer will want to save.